Bridge requires major work
By Chad Ingram
The Howland Junction trestle bridge, located along the Haliburton County Rail Trail, will require significant work in 2016.
“The bad news is the bridge needs to be replaced next year,” zapublic works director Craig Douglas told councillors during his report at a Dec. 16 council meeting, explaining the rotting decking, rails and ties need to be replaced.
The Rail Trail budget for 2016 shows that work will cost $250,000, plus another $25,000 for the engineering expenses.
“I don’t think we’ve spent that much on the whole trail rail,” said Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey.
The bridge work constitutes the majority of the Rail Trail budget for the year, which totals $335,000.
Douglas had also completed a review of the Rail Trail master plan, a document drawn up in 2012 after the county hired consultant Kate Hall to conduct a public input process on the corridor.
“The working group had a bunch of recommendations and quite an extensive summary,” Douglas said.
The master plan concluded the Rail Trail should remain a multi-use area – motorized and non-motorized users had quarrelled for exclusive use of the thoroughfare for years – and made a multitude of recommendations, some of which have been implemented and some of which have not.
One of those was increased monitoring and issuing of fines. The OPP and the county’s bylaw officer can issue tickets for breaking the trail’s bylaws.
The county does have its bylaw officer regularly check the trail in April, when ATVs are not yet to be using it.
However, additional patrols for activities such as speeding may not be especially fruitful.
“The chances of being there while they’re doing it are fairly slim,” Douglas said.
Minden Hills Reeve Brent Devolin said unless there were stats proving that such issues were a problem, there was no point in wasting resources.
“If there isn’t factual basis for it, then I’m not inclined,” Devolin said.
Algonquin Highlands Reeve and County Warden Carol Moffatt agreed, adding such incidents seemed to have declined.
“People aren’t telling us or it isn’t happening as much,” Moffatt said, adding that back when the plan was being drafted, “it was a bit of a wild West out there.”
Another recommendation was the creation of “community zones” in high-traffic areas.
“We’ve never really taken it to the next step,” Douglas said, adding it would require the development of a bylaw, including speed level drops in those areas.
Councillors bristled at the suggestion that an advisory committee for the Rail Trail be re-instituted. The committee as it had existed suffered in-fighting and was dissolved by council in 2009.
“I would never want to see a Rail Trail committee again,” said Minden Hills Deputy-reeve Cheryl Murdoch, adding more progress had been made on the file since the committee disbanded.
Other councillors agreed and it was decided instead that the public works department should do checks with users for public input on work being done on the trail.
In 2015, major work on the corridor included spring grading of its entire length, calcium application in some areas, repairs of washouts and emergency culverts and surface improvement near Gould Crossing.
Algonquin Highlands Deputy-reeve Liz Danielsen said she’d like to see more money put aside to enact more of the recommendations.
“I think we just need to slowly build a fund to get some of these things done,” Danielsen said.
The Haliburton County Rail Trail is a section of the former rail bed stretching 34 kilometres from Kinmount to Haliburton Village.